The Zimbawean military has taken control of the country’s capital city, Harere, placing President Robert Mugabe and wife Grace Mugabe under house arrest.
The military has denied accusations of a coup, instead insisting that they are working to replenish Zimbabwe’s lost democracy. At 93 years’ old, Mugabe is the world’s oldest head of state. His Presidency has been divisive, with some viewing him as a brutal dictator and others a revolutionary hero.
Protests erupted last week when Mugabe fired his deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa, who has since fled the country after receiving death threats. The move was seen as a blow to veterans of the liberation war, and on Tuesday the army seized control of the state broadcaster and Mugabe’s personal residence, Associated Press reports.
Major General Sibusiso Moyo said in a televised statement yesterday that the safety of Mugabe and his wife was “guaranteed”, but that the army would be searching for rebels and criminals related to the President’s rule.
South African President Jacob Zuma confirmed he would send ministers of defense and security officials to ensure a smooth transition.
Zimbabwean analyst Alex Rusero said the arrest signified a major change in Zimbabwean politics. “The whole idea is that the military has always been the chief broker [in Mugabe’s government],” he explained. Now, the military “are reasserting their position.”
Local resident Felix Tsanganyiso said the Zimbabwean people are “still in the dark about what is happening,” but remained positive. “So far so good. We are going about our business without harassment. My plea is that whoever takes over should sort out the economy. We are tired of living like this.”
Mugabe’s replacement is expected to be determined in the coming weeks.